Plateau voters find themselves on the hot seat during this general election season, charged with everything from sending someone to Congress to deciding the fiscal fate of a large library system, from sorting through a handful of state measures to a few lethargic legislative races.
Whatever voters decide, they have until 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 6, to make their feelings known.
There are several items of interest shared among residents on both sides of the White River, in King and Pierce counties, on the hill and in the valley.
First among those is the race in the 8th Congressional District, where Dave Reichert is slipping into retirement and both major political parties are opening their checkbooks in hopes of getting their candidate elected.
The sprawling district takes in the eastern portions of both King and Pierce counties and crosses the Cascades to include Chelan and Kittitas counties. That’s a lot of turf and calls for a candidate to represent everyone from Carbonado to Wenatchee.
Reichert served the district in Washington, D.C., for 14 years. Now, voters are tasked with choosing between Republican Dino Rossi, a real-estate investor and former state senator, and Democrat Kim Schrier, a pediatrician and first-time candidate.
Voters also will decide who represents them in the U.S. Senate, choosing between incumbent Democrat Maria Cantwell and Republican challenger Susan Hutchison.
Citizens throughout the region also will determine who represents them in Olympia, making their 31st Legislative District choices for the state Senate and both seats in the House of Representatives.
Surviving the primary were all three Republican incumbents – Phil Fortunato in the Senate and Morgan Irwin and Drew Stokesbary in the House. The Democratic opponent in the Senate race is Immaculate Ferreria; opposing Stokesbary for the Position 1 House seat is Victoria Mena and taking on Irwin in District 2 is Mark Boswell.
STATEWIDE BALLOT MEASURES
If the four measures on the statewide ballot, there’s one thing in common: all are complex issues capable of stirring legitimate debate and inspired, partisan passion.
• According to its ballot title, Initiative 1631 “would charge pollution fees on sources of greenhouse gas pollutants and use the revenue to reduce pollution, promote clean energy, and address climate impacts.”
• I-1634 is the so-called soda tax that proponents say is necessary to prevent expansion of the tax to food. By title, it “would prohibit new or increased local taxes, fees, or assessments on raw or processed foods or beverages.”
• I-1639 stirs emotions on both sides of the nation’s great gun debate. This statewide initiative would, among other things, “require increased background checks, training, age limitations, and waiting periods for sales or delivery of semiautomatic assault rifles.”
• I-940 puts a microscope on police activity and “would require law enforcement to receive violence de-escalation, mental-health, and first-aid training, and provide first-aid; and change standards for use of deadly force, adding a “good faith” standard and independent investigation.”
Additionally, state voters have the opportunity to cast an advisory vote on a Senate bill that extended oil spill response and administration taxes to crude oil or petroleum products received by pipeline. The tax was extended without a vote of the people; November’s vote is non-binding.
DISTRICTS OFFER LOCAL LEVIES
A pair of local taxing districts have placed measures before voters, each seeking cash above and beyond what is allowed without a mandate of the people.
East Pierce Fire and Rescue is proposing a bond issue capped at $80 million, all earmarked for new fire stations, land and equipment deemed necessary to protect the sprawling district.
The Pierce County Library System is asking voters to support a lid lift, adding 10 cents to the present tax rate. Without it, district administrators warn of reduced service and the closure to two or three branches throughout the county.
Also in Pierce County, voters will decide a trio of charter amendments and pick someone for the Pierce County Council who will represent the eastern portion of the county. Incumbent Dan Roach will be exiting due to term limits; replacing him will be either Democrat Lorra Jackson or Republican Dave Morell.
The most contentious race in Pierce County, however, is for prosecuting attorney. Incumbent Mark Lindquist and former department employee Mary Robnett are locked in a heated battle.
PUT BALLOTS IN MAIL OR JUST DROP OFF
Aside from putting ballots in the mailbox (they must be postmarked by Nov. 6), ballots can be dropped off at official sites throughout King and Pierce counties.
In King County, the only local drop box is found at the Enumclaw library.
In Pierce County, drop boxes are at the park-and-ride lot on Sky Island Drive in Bonney Lake; at the Buckley library; at the fire station in South Prairie; and outside town hall in Wilkeson.
Drop boxes will be available until 8 p.m. Nov. 6.
CORRECTION: In the print version of this article, it was incorrectly stated ballots needed to be postmarked by Nov. 8. Ballots need to be postmarked by Nov. 6, and both King and Pierce County Elections recommend mailing ballots out Friday, Nov. 2 to ensure ballots are postmarked by the due date.